Around the turn of the third century, an African bishop named Tertullian mused about the relationship between Christians and the state. The previous century had seen a large number of Christians martyred for refusing to recognize Caesar as divine. A few seemingly small compromises with the empire could have relieved some of the pressure on this young religious movement that worshiped a man crucified under Roman authority. But Tertullian would have none of it: “Shall [we] make an occupation of the sword [as soldiers], when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword?…Shall he carry a flag, too, hostile to Christ?”
Tertullian would not be a good candidate for patron saint of Christian nationalism, if there were such a thing. But his questions arguably lead directly to Christian anarchism.
Stephen Wolfe, a Christian nationalist himself, has defined his movement’s goal as a “totality of national action, consisting of civil laws and social customs, conducted by a Christian nation as a Christian nation, in order to procure for itself both earthly and heavenly good in Christ.” In short, Christian nationalism would use the state to enforce religious values. Christian anarchism, by contrast, rejects the state and every use of lethal force. Its rallying cry is “no king but Christ.”